The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is preparing to celebrate the Week of the Young Child on April 2-8. NAEYC’s Week of the Young Child (WOYC) celebrates young children and draws attention to high quality early learning and the critical role that teachers and families play in children’s learning and development. Learn more about the week’s themes and resources at https://www.naeyc.org/events/woyc/overview.
Here are some ideas you can implement to engage families and celebrate the Week of the Young Child in your program:
Kick Off Event
The week prior to April 2-8, let your families know that you will be celebrating the Week of the Young Child and any activities you have planned by posting about it on your program’s social media feed, in your parent newsletter, or through flyers. If posting on social media, be sure to include NAEYC’s hashtag: #woyc2022.
Not only does incorporating music into your program help children develop their creativity and literacy skills, but it also encourages children to be active and have fun with their friends and family! A few ideas to incorporate music in your program and connect with families include:
- Strike up the band! Encourage families and children to share, explore and play all different types of musical (and vocal) instruments together.
- Start a drum line by offering different sized buckets, pots and pans to play and perform on the playground.
- Host a “Zoom-ba” (Zumba) party in your classroom! Play a variety of world music and invite families to Zoom in virtually and in-person to show off their dance moves.
To encourage creative expression through music, consider exploring the following websites:
Cooking can help children learn math, science, and literacy skills, and is a fun way to introduce children to healthy eating habits! Try implementing some of these ideas (or others) in your program this week:
- Plan a rainbow taste test by offering the children a variety of different colored fruits and vegetable options
- Everyone gets to be chefs for the day by preparing a simple recipe together. Invite families to join in-person or virtually.
- Have a multicultural meal together by inviting families and program staff to share samples of traditional food that reflect their culture.
Learn more about supporting healthy habits in the Healthy Environments course within the VLS, and by exploring the following resources:
Work Together Wednesday
Work Together Wednesday is an opportunity to encourage the children in your program to work together and develop their social and emotional skills. Studies have shown that social-emotional development in young children affects their development later in life and is closely linked to other developmental competencies; therefore, it is important to provide rich opportunities for children to practice their social-emotional skills. Here are a few ideas to implement in your program during the Week of the Young Child:
- Lead a “world-wide” exploration by encouraging young children to follow a map together to discover an exciting destination within your program. Invite families to act as guides.
- Have the children select oversized empty boxes, classroom furniture and a variety of building materials to construct a classroom rocket ship together. Families are welcome to blast off as passengers!
- Have the children work together as detectives to solve the “Case of the Missing…”. Invite families to provide clues or perhaps provide the object that will go missing.
The Social Emotional development course within the VLS provides a wealth of information on cooperative play and the importance of peer interaction. For more ideas about experiences and activities to develop social-emotional skills, explore the following:
Engaging in art explorations helps children develop creativity, social skills, and fine motor skills. Some ideas to try out include:
- Showcase how much the children are learning by designing a gallery, displaying the children’s artwork for families and friends.
- Take the children outdoors to paint what they see. Use some outdoor tools provided by nature like sticks and leaves to paint a scene at the program.
- Wake the children’s senses by finger painting with ground coffee beans and tea leaves. Be sure to invite the families to this unique tea party.
Learn more about how to incorporate open-ended creative experiences into your program by exploring the Creative Expression course within the VLS. For more ideas on supporting children’s creativity, visit:
Parents are children’s first teachers. When child and youth care providers understand a child’s family dynamics and develop partnerships with parents, they are more likely to create an environment that supports the needs of the child. Thus, engaging parents can have an impactful effect on the child’s learning and development! Some ideas to encourage family partnerships and to show appreciation for one another include:
- Have each family decorate a piece of paper representing their family and create a wall collage.
- Record messages from teachers about why they value the families in the program and have the recording playing during drop off and pick up time.
- Set up a table with materials for families to create gratitude notes for their child’s caregiver.
For more ways to encourage effective parent engagement, visit NAEYC’s website: https://www.naeyc.org/resources/topics/family-engagement/principles
For additional Week of the Young Child resources, including NAEYC’s Step It Up (SIU) activity ideas, please visit the NAEYC’s website: https://www.naeyc.org/events/woyc/plan-your-event